Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Taphophile Tragics #3 - Saying it with flowers

Top: Ceramic flowers, Botany Cemetery, Sydney)
Left: Living flowers, Montmatre Cemetery, Paris; Right: Silk flowers, Wauchope Cemetery, NSW
A bare, unadorned and seemingly unloved cemetery tended only by council employees, must only add to the initial devastation of losing a loved one.

But, it does not have to be like this. Cemeteries can be places of love, joy, and celebrated remembrance. This is often symbolised by the colour, and shape, and variety of floral tributes.

All the ceramic flowers in this post are from Botany Cemetery in Sydney, aka Eastern Suburbs Memorial Cemetery
Botany Cemetery is a riot of colour, as I have shown you before. Although this is a culturally mandated attention to the departed, cut flowers are not the only way. Plastic flowers convey tackiness, whilst silken flowers convey an air of the elegantly frowsy. Yet one could choose a fine line in ceramic numbers: no wilt, not frowsy; a reliable, elegant, minimalist arrangement.

But then, we could also choose living flowers. They are overlooked in Australia, which has a, dare-I-say, off-hand regard for the departed. Parisian cemeteries exhibit no such qualms. Over there sometimes the plantings at the foot of the grave are annuals like pansies or phlox. But mostly they are perennials like roses and azaleas. Plantings that sit by the right hand of the departed. Plantings that succor from the very grave surround.

These, for me, are places of love and joy, and celebrated remembrance.

Left: Wild flowers, Gore Hill Cemetery, Sydney; Right: Unadorned graves, Randwick Cemetery, Sydney
Bottom: Ceramic flowers, Botany Cemetery, Sydney

A contribution to the Taphophile Tragics community.

19 comments:

hamilton said...

Sometimes, I find it sadder to see old flowers left at gravesites that seem to have been left at a prior visit months previously.

Francisca said...

What a contrast between the one very barren cemetery and the others with flowers, ceramic or live! I've noticed that not only in cemeteries is there a cultural difference. Europeans in general buy more flowers for their homes than North Americans (and I'd guess Australians). Even in Romania, where the living standard is lower, there were flower sellers on every street corner. Don't see that in our N.A. cities.

Jo said...

Never seen ceramic flowers on graves but I think it's a grand idea!

Gemma Wiseman said...

I love to see flowers in cemeteries! And yes! On my peninsula there are many examples of living flowers! Some graves are set in mini gardens! Now I'll have to do another wander to show the variety! Any excuse to do a camera walk!

Beautiful variety you present here! The ceramic ones are quite exceptional!

NixBlog said...

Ceramic flowers are much better than the plastic ones, which always look tacky.
Great shots, Julie!

Dianne said...

The colours of the caramic flowers are usually quite nice as opposed to some of the garish plastic variety which fade and look even more bedraggled! Our city cemeteries seem to have a policy of removing everything from a grave-site once a week to keep things nice and tidy!! That's why I love the little country plots.

Ann said...

I like the old, overgrown part.

tapirgal said...

The ceramic flowers in the top photo caught my attention. Very nice. And a thoughtful post.

Mark said...

I don't think there is anything sadder than old faded and disintegrating plastic flowers on a grave.
No Tapophile post from me today, hope to get out and explore some cemeteries this weekend.

Bob Crowe said...

Hmmm. The expressions are all individual. Plastic flowers may represent the most sincere feelings of those with little money. The graves of unfortunate children in Japan often have small toys or little juice boxes on them. Oscar Wilde's tomb in Pere Lachaise is covered with the marks of heavily lipsticked kisses. Carlos Gardel's tomb in Buenos Aries almost always has a lit cigarette in his extended right hand. Chacun à son goût.

Jim Bar said...

Some of those ceramic ones make me look twice.

diane b said...

I like the idea of real plantings or even the wild flowers look nice. I tend to agree with Bob I guess it depends on the individual. If the plastic and silk flowers are renewed when they get tatty, they look okay. The ceramics are beautiful but what about vandals breaking them. Does it happen?

Joan Elizabeth said...

When I was a kid the big thing was to put a type of glass domed thing with fake flowers inside on the graves ... I was looking for them on my recent visit to Moruya Cemetery to see if they have lasted the passage of time. Didn't see any.

I like the idea of plants. In my home town there was the grave of a couple of great aunts who died as toddlers. It had a little iron fence and rose bush but over the years both have gone.

biebkriebels said...

I had never seen those ceramic flowers, I think they are very stylish on a grave. I prefer them more then plastic flowers. The best is real flowers, but these are a good replacement.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

We tend to go the 'elegantly frowsy' path Julie, mainly because fresh wouldn't last two minutes in 35 to 40C, also it means we can put fav flowers, my Dad loved sweet peas and Mum roses and as soon as they fade we renew. I do love the ceramic ones though, I might have to do some investigations!

Gene said...

Interesting idea. At the mausoleums I've visited, they have special little vases to put live flowers in, and sinks to fill them with water. And at Christmas there were lots of evergreen branches, wreaths, etc.

But plastic flowers are very common on newer graves, at least ones that aren't recent. At the cemetery I visited today, many of the ground-level markers had holders in them for vases like at the mausoleums.

Red Nomad OZ said...

My ideal cemetery has flowers and plants growing wild - softening the rows and crumbling headstones. There's a kind of nice circularity in that!

JM said...

I just love your detail shots, Julie!

Julie said...

Thank you, Jose. I appreciate your comment.